Winter was turning the corner into summer and behaving quite badly about it. For this reason, everyone who was unfortunate enough to be out in the cruel weather only waved to each other in passing and dashed quickly on their way. A cold, pouring rain showered them with all its fury; and when the young clerk peered out of his shop window, he knew that there would be very few customers today.
Hurrying over to his chair behind the counter, Zadok Richland opened his Bible and began to carefully pore over it taking many notes. As he ran his finger along the thin page, a little bell above the door rang causing him to quickly shut his books and stand up to greet his customer. A smile came to his face when he recognized the dripping customer as the local pastor.
“Good afternoon, sir. How may I help you?” he asked helping the man remove his coat before returning to his place behind the counter.
“My wife found she was a little low on flour and asked me to fetch her some more. But how can I help you? You seem a little preoccupied,” Pastor Clearwater asked spying the books Zadok had just been using.
“Lately, as you know, I’ve been studying the Bible looking for things to share with my family each evening. When I was little, my father used to lead us in worship, and I am trying to follow in his steps. But this time it is something much more serious…” Zadok replied weighing out the chosen amount of flour.
“Something having to do with a younger sibling?” the astute pastor questioned looking over his glasses.
“Isaac is in college, and I’m quite afraid he will fall in with the wrong friends. I was puzzling just now over what I should do to help him,” Zadok said trading the flour for a handful of coins.
The pastor nodded and thought for a moment. “Zadok,” he paused trying to collect his thoughts, “after Paul, Silas, and Timothy went to Thessalonica and planted a church there they had to leave suddenly. Now, just like your brother, they were new in the faith, facing some temptations, and Paul and his brothers were worried about them. I’d encourage you to look through the book of Thessalonians to see how they handled this.”
“Thank you, pastor, I will,” Zadok replied shaking hands.
“I’ll be praying for you and your brother,” the pastor answered as he disappeared out the door into the pounding rain.
Many hours later, when his work was done and the rain was falling harder than ever, Zadok made his way through the dark, quiet streets towards his home. It looked very cozy in comparison to everything else outdoors, so he quickened his steps to reach it faster.
First came a family dinner, devotions, and the large task of getting everyone happily into bed; but later he finally found time to steal up the stairs to his bedroom and read the book his pastor had suggested.
Lighting a candle he sat down at his desk and opened the thick Bible. One of the first verses of the chapter caught his eye. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers…”1
“Yes, prayer is one way, after all God can reach Isaac even when I can’t,”
Zadok said nodding and pushing his hair off his forehead. He grabbed one of the many pieces of paper that littered his desk and scribbled a note on it.
Tracing the words with his finger, he read on until he found something more. By that time the candle was much shorter, but he pushed on—driven by a desire to bless his brother.
“Therefore when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith.” 2
“Who could I send in my place?” he mused aloud and thought through all the people he knew in the town where his brother now lived. The words “Mr. Abbott” joined his first note and he said, “I’m sure he’d be glad to take him in for an afternoon sometimes. Pastor Clearwater is quite convinced that falling in with the wrong friends could be, to a degree, kept from happening if there were something else to do.”
In that strange way that people often do, Zadok found himself thinking aloud even though there was no one to talk to. Maybe it was because he found the room too quiet or it helped him to think. He had finished reading, but he still sat staring into the flame of the candle with his chin cupped in his hands.
“Paul and his brothers did send an encouraging, instructive, and friendly letter, I suppose. That is something I should do. I’ve never really been the best of friends with him, but it’s never too late to try,” he said and pulled a clean sheet of paper from the stacks that covered the desk.
He started out by talking about the weather—that was a safe and interesting subject. As he wrote, his pen turned to things from their childhood together; then branched into updates on all the “home folks”. He told his brother how Hannah and her new husband were doing, how Mother was holding up, and a few of the comical stories of their younger siblings.
After an affectionate signature, he finished his letter with the words, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” 3 He then tucked the letter into its envelope and set it on his desk. The candle was burning very low now, and the moon had risen high in the sky; but still he wrote. There was one more thing to do—write a letter to Mr. Abbott asking him to help take care of his brother.
Zadok blew out the candle and crawled into to his bed, breathing a silent prayer before he fell asleep.
11 Thessalonians 1:2, NKJV
21 Thessalonians 3:1-2, NKJV
3Proverbs 16:9, NKJV